The little Sydneysiders that could

The little Sydneysiders that could

Everything is cute in miniature, right? Sydneysiders will get discover their miniature selves brought to life in an interactive toy town installation on the Central Station’s concourse.

“I Think I Can” is the name of the installation, part of Art & About Sydney, and it creates an interactive model railway town called Springfield Junction, inspired by the much loved childhood tale The Little Engine That Could. But with a quirky online twist - people can engage and play by coming ‘residents’ of Springfield Junction via a tiny puppet avatar.

Participants complete an iPad ‘personality test’ to determine their tiny resident, who will lead a completely different life to theirs in Springfield Junction. With more than 160 characters, participants can choose to live vicariously through a range of personalities, from the Pope or the Queen to a nuclear physicist, rugby league player or even President Obama. The resident is then placed in the town and instantly brought to life by writers, a puppeteer and live video.

As writers work with participants to create a story for their resident, the life of each character is animated and its journey broadcast onto large screens above the model town. Participants can continue to track the life of their character and the happenings of Springfield Junction through the imaginary town’s online newspaper.

“I Think I Can is a work of collective storytelling where each figure’s placement changes the story of the town and its residents. Each participant receives a passport for their resident, allowing them to return to the installation and direct their resident’s story, propose new moves and respond to other residents’ actions,” explains the project’s co-creator and artistic director, Sam Routledge, from Terrapin Puppet Theatre in Hobart. “A blogger documents the story as it evolves and updates the online newspaper with breaking news.”

With thousands of people travelling through Central Station every day, Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the installation is all about breaking down the barriers and making art more accessible to all. “Thousands of Sydneysiders travel through Central Station every day, intently concentrating on their mobile phones. This project gives people a chance to live through a very different avatar and imagine a completely different way of life,” he says.

“I Think I Can” will operating during Art & About Sydney from 20 September to 6 October on Tuesdays to Fridays from 1pm-7pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-5pm. The installation is designed by Sam Routledge and Martyn Coutts and presented by Art & About Sydney and Performance Space in collaboration with the Hills Model Railway Society.